Imagine a place filled with giant robot pizza boys, cardboard time machines, hideously mutated crime-fighting mole rats, and apocalyptic destruction. That place is the Perry Bible Fellowship, and now you can visit it with The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack.
The man behind the Perry Bible Fellowship is Nicholas Gurewitch. He produced PBF strips for the Daily Orange, a college newspaper, and for his website for nearly a decade, but the whole strip's run has never been collected in print in one place.
Until, that is, the Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack came out earlier this year. The book collects nearly every strip produced for the Perry Bible Fellowship, including loving homages to famous comic artists, meditations on sex and death, and a healthy dose of science fiction and fantasy strips.
In fact, the science fictiony strips tend to be among the best in the book. Gurewitch is at his best when he's exploring the absurdity of life and death, and there's no better way to explore this absurdity than with a good apocalypse or a story of science gone mad.
For instance, in "Sun Love," seen above, the Sun and the Earth's love affair, coupled with their casual disregard for humanity, amounts to an almost Lovecraftian tale of the horrors of an indifferent universe. But at the same time, it's also pretty cute. And damn funny.
And Gurewitch always has a healthy sense of fun. If a strip calls for it, he isn't afraid of a straight-forward gag, but he also isn't afraid to stretch a premise beyond its obvious conclusion and into something darker and more absurd, all without forgetting that humor is humor, be it dark and biting or light and fun.
An example of the former is "Astronaut Fall." It starts as a horrible, tragic moment during a space walk, but with the simple addition of a joyful child catching a "snowflake" on their tongue, the strip becomes an absurd death with a horrendously squick-inducing punchline.
An example of the latter, called "Super League," uses a super hero team to tell a joke that wouldn't be out of place in a "Dilbert" strip: a company making hiring decisions based on the applicant's ability to provide good coffee, not their skills. It's a pretty straightforward gag, but it's expertly executed and beautifully illustrated.
One caveat: some of the early strips, before the Perry Bible Fellowship found its unique voice, rely a little too heavily on anatomical jokes and innuendo. But no book is perfect, and this collection comes pretty close; as the book progresses, the crude anatomical jokes and innuendo become very clever anatomical jokes and layered innuendo.
And layered innuendo is one of Gurewitche's specialties. In "Zarflax," a hostile alien resorts to drastic means to try to lure in a hapless space adventurer. The result is essentially a space-bound anatomical visual pun.
It's overall a fantastic read, but if the collection has a weakness as a whole, it's that the experience is over way too quickly. The strips are one per page, and even at 256 pages, the hardbound book flies by too quickly. The upside of this is that the book merits multiple readings. Each time through these strips, I see new details that I might have missed in previous readings.
So peruse the strips below, and If you enjoy the strips you see here, the book is worth picking up. It includes bonus sketches, an interview with Gurewitch, and strips no longer available online. Plus, it makes a great conversation starter as a coffee table book. But only if you don't mind your conversations being about sex, death, irony, violence, and utter destruction. And laughter!
Buy The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack at Amazon
The Perry Bible Fellowship online